3310.0 - Marriages and Divorces, Australia, 2016  
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MARRIAGES AND DIVORCES, AUSTRALIA

This publication provides data and information about marriages registered and divorces granted in Australia in 2016 on a state or territory of registration basis rather than a state or territory of usual residence. The publication presents statistics on the number of marriages registered, crude marriage rates, median age at marriage, age-specific marriage rates, previous marital status, use of marriage celebrants, country of birth of those marrying, and living arrangements for couples prior to marriage. Divorce statistics in this publication provide state, territory and national level data for the number of divorces granted, crude divorce rates, ages at marriage, separation and divorce, age-specific divorce rates, divorces involving children, duration of marriage prior to divorce, and applicants for divorce.

2016 KEY POINTS

There were 118,401 marriages registered and 46,604 divorces granted in Australia in 2016. The median age of couples marrying for the first time has continued to slowly rise over the past two decades, with grooms now likely to be closer to 30 years and the bride in her late twenties. Australian men and women are getting married later but also staying married longer, with the number of divorces granted declining over the last 20 years.

Ideally, for compiling annual time series, the number of marriages should be recorded and reported as those which occurred within a given reference period, such as a calendar year. However, there can be lags in the registration of marriages with the state or territory registries and so not all marriages are registered in the year that they occur.

An additional data cube has therefore been included for 2016, showing the year marriages were celebrated (the date of occurrence). With exception to the statistics published in this Year of Occurrence data cube, all marriages referred to in this publication relate to the number of marriages registered, not those which actually occurred, in the years shown.

MARRIAGES

  • The number of marriages increased in 2016 by 4,806 (4.2%) and the crude marriage rate increased slightly from 4.8 in 2015 to 4.9 marriages per 1,000 estimated resident population in 2016.
  • Civil celebrants have overseen the majority of marriages since 1999 and the proportion of marriage ceremonies overseen by a civil celebrant increased again to 76.4 per cent of all marriages in 2016.
  • In 2016, the majority of brides (81.2%) and grooms (79.3%) had not been married before.
  • The median age at marriage for males in 2016 was 31.9 years an increase from 31.7 in 2015. The median age at marriage for females in 2016 was 29.9 years, an increase of 0.1 years since 2016.


DIVORCES
  • The number of divorces decreased by 1,913 (-3.9%) in 2016 and the crude divorce rate decreased from 2.0 divorces per 1,000 estimated resident population in 2015 to 1.9 divorces per 1,000 estimated resident population in 2016.
  • The median duration from marriage to divorce in 2016 was 12.0 years, a slight decrease from 12.1 years reported in 2015.
  • The median age at divorce for males was 45.5 years of age and the median ages of females was 42.9 years of age for those divorces granted in 2016 - an increase of 0.2 years of age since 2015 for both sexes.
  • The largest proportion of divorce applications were from joint applicants, accounting for 42.7% of divorces. Female applicants accounted for 32.1% of divorce applications while male applicants accounted for 25.2%.


SUMMARY TABLES

MARRIAGES

In 2016, there were 118,401 marriages registered in Australia, an increase of 4,806 (4.2%) from the 113,595 marriages registered in 2015. The crude marriage rate increased from 4.8 to 4.9 marriages per 1,000 estimated resident population.

The median age of males and females at marriage was 31.9 and 29.9 years respectively in 2016. The median age at marriage for males has increased by 0.2 years, and the females have increased by 0.1 years since 2015.

The proportion of marriage ceremonies performed by civil celebrants has continued to increase in 2016, with civil celebrants performing 76.4% of all registered marriage ceremonies, an increase from 74.9% in 2015.

Couples who lived together prior to marriage accounted for 80.8% of all marriages registered in 2016, a decrease from the 81.0% recorded in 2015.

Marriages where both partners were marrying for the first time accounted for 72.3% of all marriage in 2016. The number of marriages where one partner was marrying for the first time decreased by 0.3 percentage points to 16.0% in 2016, while the proportion of remarriages for both partners increased from 11.7% in 2015 to 11.8% in 2016.

In 2016, 54.5% of couples married were both born in Australia, 31.6% were born in different countries, and 13.9% were born in the same overseas country.


1.1 SELECTED MARRIAGE INDICATORS(a), Australia, Selected years, 1996–2016

1996
2006
2012(b)
2013(b)
2014
2015(c)
2016

Marriages registered
no.
106,103
114,222
123,243
118,959
121,197
113,595
118,401
Crude marriage rate(d)
rate
5.8
5.5
5.4
5.1
5.2
4.8
4.9
Previous marital status
First marriage both partners
no.
70,438
78,178
88,540
86,076
87,811
81,715
85,559
First marriage one partner
no.
19,657
20,122
20,089
19,339
19,433
18,539
18,913
Remarriage both partners
no.
16,008
15,922
14,604
13,549
13,952
13,342
13,930
Marriage celebrant
Ministers of religion(e)
Number
no.
56,462
44,117
34,612
32,601
31,278
28,419
27,901
Proportion
%
53.2
38.6
28.1
27.4
25.8
25.0
23.6
Civil Celebrants(e)
Number
no.
49,641
70,105
88,599
86,301
89,861
85,115
90,444
Proportion
%
46.8
61.4
71.9
72.5
74.1
74.9
76.4
Relative birthplace of couple(f)
Both born in Australia
no.
68,182
69,710
69,046
65,605
66,074
61,565
64,552
Both born in the same overseas country
no.
8,666
10,334
15,439
15,728
16,188
15,762
16,439
Born in different countries
no.
29,252
34,126
38,686
37,553
38,408
36,240
37,374
Cohabitation prior to marriage
Number
no.
na
86,937
95,670
91,120
96,223
91,985
95,689
Proportion of all marriages
%
na
76.1
77.6
76.6
79.4
81.0
80.8

na not available
(a) See Glossary for definitions of terms used.
(b) Care should be taken in interpreting Victorian data from 2012 and 2013 as the category values were calculated from a weighted sample. Please see Explanatory Note 29 for further information.
(c) A larger than usual number of 2015 marriage registrations have been delayed until 2016. This has contributed to a low count of marriages and the ABS recommends caution when comparing the 2015 count and rate with other years. See Explanatory Note 31 for further information.
(d) Marriages per 1,000 of estimated resident population at 30 June for each reference year respectively. See Glossary and Explanatory Notes 44-45 for further information.
(e) Excludes marriages where the rite is not stated or not defined. Registers of ministers of religion are maintained by states and territories under the authority of the Marriage Act 1961. Data on religious marriage rites are classified to the Australian Standard Classification of Religious Groups (ASCRG), 2011 (cat. no. 1266.0). Please see Explanatory Note 20 for further information.
(f) Excludes marriages where country of birth of one or both partners is not stated.


DIVORCES

In 2016, there were 46,604 divorces granted in Australia, a decrease of 1,913 (-3.9%) from the 48,517 divorces granted in 2015.

The crude divorce rate for the number of divorces per 1,000 estimated resident population decreased by 0.1 to 1.9 in 2016.

The median age of males and females at divorce was 45.5 and 42.9 years respectively in 2016. Median age at divorce in 2016 has increased by 0.2 years for both males and females from 2015.

In 2016, divorces involving children represented 46.9% of all divorces granted compared with 47.5% in 2015. The number of children involved in divorces totalled 40,202 in 2016, a decrease from the 42,303 reported in 2015. The average number of children per divorce involving children in 2015 was 1.8 (unchanged since 2013).

The median duration from marriage to divorce in 2016 was 12.0 years, a slight decrease from that reported in 2015. This number has been decreasing very slowly from a peak of 12.5 years in 2006.

Over the last 20 years, the proportion of divorces granted as result of joint applications for divorce has been increasing. This has continued in 2016 to the point where joint applicants are the highest applicant type for the seventh year in a row, with 19,879 divorces granted from joint applications, compared with 14,962 from female applicants and 11,763 from male applicants.


1.2 SELECTED DIVORCE INDICATORS, Australia, Selected years, 1996-2016

1996
2006
2012
2013
2014
2015
2016

Divorces grantedno.
52,466
51,375
49,917
47,638
46,498
48,517
46,604
Crude divorce rate(a)rate
2.9
2.5
2.2
2.1
2.0
2.0
1.9
Median length of marriage
To separationyears
7.6
8.9
8.6
8.5
8.4
8.5
8.4
To divorceyears
11.0
12.5
12.2
12.1
12.0
12.1
12.0
Divorces involving children(b)
Divorcesno.
28,138
25,733
24,144
22,590
21,840
23,063
21,864
Proportion of all divorces%
53.6
50.1
48.4
47.4
47.0
47.5
46.9
Total number of childrenno.
52,455
48,396
44,834
41,747
40,152
42,303
40,202
Average number of children per divorce(c)no.
1.9
1.9
1.9
1.8
1.8
1.8
1.8
Relative birthplace of people granted divorce(d)
Both born in Australiano.
29,369
27,416
25,301
24,385
23,565
24,826
23,707
Both born in same overseas countryno.
7,080
,7082
8,623
8,180
8,091
8,233
8,119
Born in different countriesno.
15,705
14,430
13,517
12,904
12,746
13,430
13,294
Type of applicant(e)
Maleno.
17,005
15,171
12,958
12,329
12,090
12,178
11,763
Femaleno.
24,155
20,574
17,140
15,658
15,127
15,337
14,962
Jointno.
11,306
15,582
19,819
19,625
19,281
21,002
19,879

na not available
(a) Divorces per 1,000 estimated resident population of males or females, at 30 June for each reference year respectively. Only those people aged 16 years and over, and therefore eligible to marry according to the Marriages Act 1961, are included. See Explanatory Notes 3 and 41–43 for more information.
(b) Unmarried children of the marriage who were aged under 18 years at the time of application for divorce. See Glossary for more information.
(c) Excludes divorces not involving children.
(d) Excludes divorces where country of birth of one party or both parties is not stated.
(e) Excludes divorces where type of applicant is not stated.